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Conference Paper American Sociological Association Annual Meeting

Adverse Birth Outcomes, Maternal Prenatal Behavior and their Social Context


Publication date

16 Aug 2000


Objectives: The purpose of this study was to use a national population sample to examine some of the proximal factors of adverse birth outcomes within the larger social environment in which they originate.
Methods: Low birth weight, preterm, and small for gestational age births were examined in a national Canadian survey (N=4,353) to determine the contribution of maternal smoking, alcohol consumption and high blood pressure in relation to distal social and economic factors, such as family dysfunction, social support, income, age, and education in a series of logistic regression models.
Results: Maternal prenatal smoking and high blood pressure during pregnancy had direct effects on adverse birth outcomes. Social and economic factors had relatively minor direct effects but significant gradients were found across levels of family dysfunction and socioeconomic status. However, most social and economic factors were strongly associated with the maternal factors.
Conclusions: Clinical interventions designed to mitigate the hazards of adverse birth outcomes should be designed to reflect the gradients of risky prenatal maternal factors associated with age, education, income, and family dysfunction.


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